As the value of creative collaboration and interdisciplinary exchange is increasingly recognised in society, socially engaged approaches to arts practice are more prevalent than ever, representing a key growth area in the arts. In addition, new contexts for arts practice bring with them more diversified opportunities for sourcing funding and other supports.
At the same time the need for astute project management skills that build in resilience and adaptability has become key to contemporary arts practice, not least in light of the impact of COVID 19 which has been very challenging for the arts sector. Social practice is an artistic approach that routinely deals with these challenges.
As more artists become interested and involved in this way of working, through the support of Creative Ireland, Leitrim County Council working with Cork City Council and leading practitioners in the field sought to put additional supports in place that would help artists develop the skills and methodologies necessary to do this more effectively. For emerging artists and those looking at this way of working for the first time, the toolkit gives a practical overview of how such projects can work. No artist should be expected to shoulder the full responsibility or manage all the aspects of the type of projects described in this toolkit. However, every artist needs to be sufficiently familiar with all the competencies involved to be assured that they have been considered sufficiently and are being managed by someone.
Creative Ireland is an all-of-government programme with a vision that every person in Ireland will have the opportunity to fully realise his or her creative potential. One of the priorities of the Creative Ireland programme is to provide opportunities for communities to explore their own creativity, which it does by working with local authorities to promote greater access to, and inclusion in, a wide range of creative activities.
Creative Frame was established with the support of the Arts Council by Leitrim County Council’s Arts Office and Local Enterprise Office in 2014 as a professional development network for the creative sector in Leitrim and the wider region. The network is aimed at professional and emerging practitioners across the creative sector and coordinates a year-round programme of seminars, training and mentoring activities for its 350 members while its website offers a forum for discussion and exchange and repository of other professional development resources.
In 2019, with funding from Creative Ireland, Creative Frame hosted a programme of masterclasses over two weekends with artists Aideen Barry; Marie Brett; Siobhán Clancy; Mike McLoughlin; Deirdre O'Mahony; John Scott; Mark Storor; and Kate Wilson. Following that programme Leitrim County Council worked with Siobhán Clancy on what would become the foundation for this toolkit, which has continued to be developed by Leitrim County Council and Cork City Council in consultation with Marie Brett; George Higgs; Michael McLoughlin; Deirdre O'Mahony; Seoidín O’Sullivan and Kate Wilson.
This toolkit will be an ongoing, evolving process. While significant space has been given over to exploring the origins and thinking about social practice projects, It is intended to be added to and revised on a continual basis - particularly in relation to the practical aspects of project management.